Beware of Fake Online Reviews

(Ping! Zine Web Tech Magazine) – Online reviews are proving to be more and more crucial for businesses on the web. Research continues to show that online consumers rely heavily on positive reviews for businesses before making a purchase decision. Online reviews can be found on individual business sites, online markets such as Amazon, or third party review websites such as Yelp. As more businesses learn about the importance of online reviews, there are a growing number of fake reviews popping up across the Web. Some businesses actually engage in the bad practice of paying others to review their products to gain an advantage.

If you run a trustworthy, honest business, you may not need any other reason to avoid this practice; but luckily, there is a new deterrent for companies that do purchase fake reviews. A couple of months ago, Yelp has started to punish such businesses by listing an alert on that company’s page, to let potential customers know that the reviews might not be genuine. If customers are made aware that they cannot trust a specific company’s reviews on the site, they could be less likely to purchase from that business. The hope is that companies will be deterred enough from the bad practice of publishing fake reviews.

What do you think about this approach?

Yelp’s initiative is a great way to make users aware that they should not believe everything that they read online, but do you think this will make the online review landscape more honest? Currently, sites like Amazon have a system where users can rate whether or not a review was helpful, with the most helpful rising to the top. Do you think this would be a better approach for reviews?

No matter how you look at it, it is clear that positive online reviews are important, but planting fake reviews to try to help your business is a not a good idea.

Photo Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/jusun

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